Sara Takanashi

50 Most Marketable 2016 - Sara Takanashi
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Sara Takanashi

CRITERIA

Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.

  • Value for money
  • Age
  • Home market
  • Charisma
  • Willingness to be marketed
  • Crossover appeal

Japanese, 19, Ski jumping

Japan’s winter superstar leaps again for Olympic glory

Representatives: Hakuhodo DY Sports Marketing

Key partners: Mizuno, Uvex

2015 ranking: New entry

 

Two years ago in Sochi, Japan’s highest-flying winter sports star landed just short of history. At the age of just 17, Sara Takanashi was tipped to become the first ever female Olympic champion in ski jumping. A fourth-placed finish, though admirable, was anti-climactic.

Takanashi has responded like an athlete keen to make up for lost time, even with so much of her career remaining. She won 14 of the 17 World Cup events completed in 2015/16, taking her third title overall, and would be a prohibitive favourite were the next Games an imminent prospect. Instead, brands have two years to build campaigns around an elite star in a discipline that, not so long ago, represented one of the last barriers to gender equality in Olympic competition.

Those Games in PyeongChang begin a three-event swing through south-east Asia that also takes in Takanashi’s native Japan in 2020. As a winter athlete, of course, she will not be a part of her home Olympics, but the enthusiasm with which domestic companies have embraced Tokyo’s commercial programme could well extend to her bid for gold.   

There are immediate sponsorship opportunities available. Slovenian ski supplier Elan announced in April that it would be withdrawing from ski jumping, thereby ending its long-term partnership with Takanashi and leaving one of her most important categories open. EC

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